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Manta alfredi

Manta rays are large eagle rays belonging to the genus Manta. The larger species, M. birostris, reaches 7 m (23 ft) in width while the smaller, M. alfredi (pictured), reaches 5.5 m (18 ft). Both have triangular pectoral fins, horn-shaped cephalic fins and large, forward-facing mouths. Mantas can be found in temperate, subtropical and tropical waters. M. birostris migrates across open oceans, singly or in groups, while M. alfredi tends to be resident and coastal. They are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they swallow with their open mouths as they swim. Gestation lasts over a year, producing live pups. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites. Like whales, they breach, for unknown reasons. Both species are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Threats include pollution, entanglement in fishing nets, and direct harvesting for their gill rakers for use in Chinese medicine, and their slow reproductive rate exacerbates these threats. Only a few aquariums are large enough to house them. In general, these large fish are seldom seen and difficult to study. (Full article...)

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George Foster Peabody

George Foster Peabody (1852–1938) was an American banker and philanthropist. Born in Columbus, Georgia, he and his family moved to Brooklyn in 1866. The young Peabody found work in a wholesale dry goods firm while educating himself through the library of the local YMCA. Through his involvement with the Reformed Church, Peabody met Spencer Trask, and when Trask established his own investment house in 1881 Peabody joined him. Over the following 25 years Peabody amassed a fortune through his various investments, retiring in 1906 to focus on philanthropic work, which included providing the initial funding for the Peabody Awards.

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